Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tough negotiating and I am poleaxed by the heat

Friday 17 July 2015

Sticky and exhausting with thunder and blissful rain later - 33 degrees

Wake earlier and earlier each morning and on average I am up and about from 6 - 6.30.  It must be a Summer thing.  In Winter I am comatose until at least 8.  OH, left to his own devices, would sleep until gone 10.  I don't know how he gets so tired.  Its not as if he moves much when he is awake....

Down town with OH to do revisits with Wednesday's clients.  They are on the dot time wise and we head off to the house which is in our town.  They are concerned about the construction method - known as Europac 2, it is basically a polystyrene block, filled with reinforced concrete - enormously energy efficient.  The problem is that the owner has not finished the pool, or the gite.  On the positive side, the green house gases are the lowest I have ever seen, the cost of heating is minimal and the finished value would be considerably in excess of how much they would pay to purchase and complete the works.  We are there for an hour and a half and then go and see the other property.

Built in a classic breeze block, interior insulation and rendering style, it is a finished product. It has a wonderful pool, full of blue and inviting water and the garden is wonderfully planted. It is in a village that is not unattractive but that normally you would have trouble selling to the locals.  Other than the locals who were born there, that is.  Almost as soon as we get there, it becomes apparent that this house has moved into number one spot and we leave after an hour and go to the deep, dark depths of a bar and start to talk money.

The price is 371000 and the clients say they would like to get it for 340000.  I bet they would.  I talk to the owners and the husband says that the only way they would be prepared to accept a low price is if they got to rent free whilst they renovate the presbytery - an unexceptional property which they have purchased in the same village, and currently have on a bridging loan.  Surprisingly, the clients are not adverse to this idea and say that if the owners sell and then pay them a peppercorn rent, they can stay in the house until April.  I decide, bearing in mind the initial hard line reaction of the owners, to let them simmer overnight.  Their house has been for sale for five years.  It is time for them to be flexible.

Back home for quick lunch and then back out into the oven like temperatures to meet a young couple of ladies from Eire.  They are hovering in the shade of the railway hotel and looking palely luminescent, in the way only Irish people can.  I show them a couple of houses in the country and it quickly transpires that they want to be in our town, where I have nothing organised.  I had tried to get them into a house where the owner, an English lady, assured me that she would work with me.  I finally got through to her this morning and she kicked off by asking why I hadn't brought anyone around and then said she wasn't available and then said she would only be working with my colleague.  She is the second mad old bat to let me down over the past few weeks.  When I saw her last, to talk about putting her house on sale, she was all sweetness and light and oh yes, I will only work with you.  I give up with single English ladies of a certain age.  They are volatile.  

A sudden flash of inspiration struck and I took them to see the little house with the pool belonging to the gay guys.  Alas they were not at home.  The ladies were very sad that they could not see the house and said it looked funky.  I realised I had been guilty of seeing the house with my eyes and thinking it looked wierd.  I promised to send hem the brochure and dropped them back off at the catr park.  Back home and felt boiled and exhausted. Managed to speak to my notaire about the US lady case.  She was in the middle of writing a tough letter to the US lady notaire, saying that if the matter was not brought rapidly to a close, then the seller would bring a case for damages.

Was about to water when the skies turned yellow and there were ominous rumblings.  Rain, blissful sweet fresh moisture, falling from the skies as I went to bed.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Thoughts on heavy air and the deserted chateau... who is the man in the gardens?

Thursday 16 July 2015

Overcast - 26 degrees.  Pleasant and not head boiling

The garden had respite from being sucked dry by the sun today.  There was heavy cloud cover and a light breeze and the humidity levels seemed a lot lower.  Talking to the Californian lady yesterday, she said it is hot there but it doesn't exhaust you, because it is dry heat.  Here, it can top 95 percent and you droop.  Interestingly, we went to Spain for New Year a while ago and spent three days in the high green Ordesa National Park.  There were forests made of box (buxus) - hundreds and hundreds of years old.  There was, as always in Spain, epic eating, drinking and smoking.  As we crossed back into France, windows open and the car full of the pungent aroma of pine trees, we suddenly became aware of the change in the air - it suddenly became 'thick' with moisture.

OH went down to the rental unit to recommence battle and I rang people and did the VAT return and sorted out the ironing mountain.  He came back and we had lunch and then went so I could show him a chateau which he will visit for me next week.  The GPS decided to stop working and it transpired that the end had dropped off the connector.  We arrived, with the aid of Google Maps on my iPhone and the house was deserted.  We hammered and rang and circled and then noticed an old man tramping around in the gardens.  He said he lived in the gardener's cottage and I left him my card and we went back home and I ironed for many hours and got through it all.  I still need to sort out my suitcases.  Felt very stressed about travelling, work, messy house, heat, exhaustion and started having a panic attack. Extremely unpleasant.  Made me breathless and dizzy.  Must learn to control emotions. Stress brings on all sorts of nasty medical conditions.

US lady's notary rang and said she had just got back from holiday, thinking that it would have all got sorted out in her absence, and found that nothing had been sorted out and she had read my email saying that I understand nothing, and was then really upset because she doesn't seem to be able to tell the US lady that the basis on which she wishes to continue, cannot happen.  She cannot add another person into the contract - her investor.  Her notary transferred the emails she had received from Lisa and it transpires that Lisa has asked her future ex husband to leave the deposit he paid in place.  Her notary also told me that, to substitute another person - the investor replacing the husband - it would require accord of future ex husband and the seller.  So, all the seller has to do is not to agree to the substitution, US woman cant buy without the investor who is insisting on having her name on the contract, and in two weeks time, we will be out of the woods and can get paid!!!

The phone rings and it is the offhand chateau renter and it appears that the old man in the house is her father and has Alzheimers.  She says she will be out next week when OH is doing the visit, and she will leave a key with her father.  OH is very stressed.  The old guy may well forget.  I ring the agent who placed the renters and she says she can be available to come with her key, next week, but I must get the agreement of the renter.  Oh FFS I will have to ring her again tomorrow.

Manage to speak to client for tomorrow afternoon and fit in a programme of four houses. She has been out with my colleague for a couple of days.  Will be interesting to see what she thinks of what she has seen.  Manage to speak to a number of people.  Walked the dog and watered and had a flash of inspiration and it was then 9.30 but rang and left a message on her answerphone.

Two revisits tomorrow.  Offer upcoming!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dizzying heat and conversation like honey

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Very hot and 90% humidity - 33 degrees

Got up and out early this morning as it was forecast to be hot and sticky.  Down to the rental unit to clean up ahead of the new guests arriving on the same day as I get back from my holiday.  We manhandle the huge, dense worktop into position and discover it is too short. OH disappears to nearby town to get some more materials.  I don't know how he is going to make it longer.  The problem is that there is such a gap between the periods when it gets worked on, that he loses track of where he is.  And the tools are absolutely all over the place.  

I clean up the place and am amazed at people's capacity for bleeding on pillows and putting hair down the shower.  OH arrives back with very few materials and we go home for lunch. Yet another day when nothing has been achieved.

Listen to my messages and have two containing long rants.  I appreciate people get frustrated by the delays - especially the owners of the house which is, in theory, being bought by the US lady - but there is no point in taking it out on me.  I delete them and then read an email from my notary, informing the US lady's notary that in her opinion, the fact that the assignation letter was presented at their former address, means that the fifteen day period can start to run and if she hasn't paid in the funds by the end of July, the penalty monies can be paid out.  I am so glad I am off on hols from next Tuesday - I need down time from the madness of work and especially from the heatwave, which is completely exhausting.

I had made an appointment for 3 pm and I had to cream up and sunny glasses on and head into the breathless afternoon.  The house was at the end of a long lane and to get to it, I had to pass a long and limpid lake, whose deep blue waters invited me in.   The initial constructions of the house were in the 15th century and there had been additions over the intervening 6 centuries.  An imposing building but a blank facade, without ornament or planting.  A long gravel driveway flanked by hydrangeas, a drip hose snaking ugly at their base.  Tall London planes with their curious patchwork trunks.  I stepped out onto the gravel and the heat was dizzying.  A couple ran out of the house and took me quickly inside.

The man is German and his wife is from America and they spend half of their time here and half there and now the house is too big for them.  Whilst the outside may be plain, the first room you come to is stunning.  At least 80m2, with cavernous beamed ceiling, cool terracotta tiled floor and views right through to the other side of the house, it is a real statement.  The kitchen was modest and we sat in the library with its massive stone fireplace and original 18th century oil of a local dignitary.  They offered me orange juice and sparkling water and wonderful chocolate biscuits and an hour passed very pleasantly whilst they told me about the history of the house and their travels (man former diplomat - they had decided to seek the sun after a spell in St Petersburg).  The lady had a gentle, hypnotic accent and her conversation flowed like warm honey and I felt very tired.  It was a real effort to do the paperwork and, finally and with regret, it was time to go back outside.

I tried to ring both notaries and find out what was going on and discovered that they both now had decided to stop answering their phones at 5.30 pm.  That means they only answer 10.30-12.00 and 2.30-5.30.  Wonderful.  Vive la France.

Back home and OH had made chili and we had to wash it down with gallons of iced water. To bed early

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The French and Bastille Day, finding a proximate partner and many, many visits

Tuesday 14 July 2015
Fête Nationale 

Sticky and hot 27 degrees

The rest of the world call the 14 July Bastille Day.  The French don't.  The Revolution is not talked about here and hardly even taught in schools.  Perhaps it is something they don't want to remember or think about.  Strange because, as a Brit, my history is still very much part of my present.  The French of my town don't tend to look to the past as a reference for the future, in broad terms, but live in terms of their own family history.  They are not well travelled, except to places where French is spoken.  My neighbour was born in the house where he still lives.  His father was born there.  His mother was born in the house immediately next to mine where now resides my ritzy Dolce and Gabbana neighbour who is better turned out just to hang around the house than I am when going out to work.  He didn't look too far for a wife, commented my neighbour. About 100 yards....  My neighbour keeps chickens and grows veg and has a pig which he slaughters and makes lots of cuts and puddings and lives on for many months of the year.  He is registered blind, which his excuse for looking very closely at lady's cleavages.  He drives around the locale in his tractor.  His glasses are as thick and smooth as sea glass.  He loves a gossip.  He is the owner of the jumping labrit who I have now decided that we will have to train.  The poor dog is desperate for attention though I will have to throttle it if it jumps up and dirties my dresses.

Up and on with the motley at an early hour and down town to meet yesterday's clients.  OH decided to take the dog for a walk and do some shopping, claiming that despite the fact it is a national holiday, the shops would be open (they were).  I met up with people, who were looking very keen and were on time, and we rolled off into the bright morning, with the roads empty and winding through the sparkling green fields of maze and sunflowers.  The house was in a village with a bar/restaurant and we parked in the large car park and into the cool of the house.

Built in 1771 it is a substantial stone built property with high ceilings, beams, fireplaces and the most stunning tiled floor, each tile outlined in oak.  There is a separate gite, large extension and garden with the required potager and chicken run.  No hen house.  The chickens roost in the trees.  I wonder how they find the eggs.  It must be like the Easter egg hunt every day of the year.  A cockerel sings to the skies from the high branches.

We then go for a coffee and they say they would like to revisit three of the properties on Friday.  Great news, drop them off and back home to make the appointments.  Discover that the assignation letter sent to the US lady has come back with address unknown.  Email her and she says she has sold and moved out and wont have another permanent address until late August and is 'waiting to hear' from her ex husband about the penalty monies.  If she thinks he is going to let these become part of the payment for the house, she is mad.  It will involve more attestations and more time dragging on and the seller's mother is booked to go back to New Zealand and she is the one holding the power of attorney.  Oh when will this bloody case ever come to conclusion?

All too soon it was time to go back out again and meet the second set of clients.  They also were on time and we walked into town, enjoying the exhibition of paintings in the public gardens, and had a coffee in the middle of town.  The Place was lively with tourists, bunting and music.  The couple were entranced.  They said it was much better than where they had been looking.  The man was sensible and listened.  The woman, an ex teacher, talked absolute bollocks and I was fed up of her within ten minutes.  There was some confusion because the agency software had shown them living in the UAE and they said they were in Ludlow in Shropshire.  Anyhow, we got around that one and set off to see the first house.

This house was built in the 1950's and is large and rambling.  The woman opened a door. Is this the toilet, she asked?  No it is the throne room.  Of course it is the sodding toilet.  There is only one thing in the room and it is a toilet....  I hope her students listened to her more than she listens to other people.  Talking to her was like trying to grasp mist.  The man was stunned by all the rooms.  They helped me to close up and then we went to see the second house which was of a more manageable size.  They also loved this one.  We finished up and the man said he had been very impressed and we arranged to speak Saturday.  I am going to need a holiday by the time next week comes around.

Back home and updated software and did feedback on the visits.  I have another order for the resin buttons!!  Tiny hearts again.  Finally ran out of clear resin.  Dug out the yellow stuff. Might try black inclusions and sparkly stuff.  Poured two pendants using the snail shells and investigated purchase of manual jewellery drill.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One of the most popular posts of the last six months

One of my most popular posts.....

Saturday 28 February 2015

Guess what, yes....  am about to develop webbed feet

OH surprised me by leaping out of bed early and saying he had cabin fever and we needed to go to the coast and get some culture.  It was a bit of a shock to be on the road for 9.30 am and driving through the thick drizzle.  Not a lot of other people had had the same idea. We arrived and parked by the shore.  There is quite some reach before the water reaches this shore, so immense cubes of concrete have been piled up in a random style against the promenade.  The massive waves were rolling in at speed, the spray shooting back from their crests, and they burst explosively on the cubes.  The spumy, foaming water shot easily ten metres into the air and the black clothed photographers were periodically hidden from view as it landed on the promenade and road nearby.  Some cars owners were hovering, enjoying the prospect of a free car wash, and wondering how to get back into their vehicles without being soaked to the skin.

We went for a quick shop in the market and discovered the Lidl has different stuff to our local one.  I was delighted to find some Master Crumble, described as muesli, but nothing a Swiss person would recognise.  I have a complete addition to its strange clusters and fruity chewy bits.

  apparently it is full of saturated acids but I don't care

We then took a turn around the fish market.  A woman was poking a stick into an aquarium and trying to separate the lobsters and the crabs, who were establishing territory and waving their claws at one another.  The lobsters were iridescent blue and had a lower waving curtain from which they scooted around the tanks.  Such lobsters are very rare and the colour is produced because some crustaceans are better at processing an antioxidant known as astaxanthin and it was amazing to see them

this is an US blue lobster taken from

The range of fish in a Spanish market is truly mind boggling - from massive sharks to pop eyed red snapper, John Dory, hake (merluza), salt cod (baccalao), gleaming spotted turbot, enormous langoustines (cigales) and shoals of silver anchovies (anchoas).  What did take my eye were the mackerel.  Have you ever looked closely and in its natural state, the fish which provides your kipper.  Each mackerel has its own individual maze like pattern running over the top and middle of the body and a faint mother of pearl sheen illuminates all of the scales.  

We then went for some 'culcha' in the large art museum.  OH picked up the audio guides and marched off, saying 'follow me'.  This is what he does in museums.  He marched into a door and seemed to have trouble getting through it, so an aged museum guide got off her stool and opened it for him.

The first exhibit was called Japanese Garden.  It was moss sprayed in various garish colours.  'This is crap', exclaimed OH, loudly.  I prayed that no one in the room understood 'basic' English.  The guide let us back out again and we went into the cloisters.  OH peered at the signs on the wall and then marched off decisively.  I arrived and had to open the door for us into the church.  I hope he is not going to start having these problems at home.  There were a lot of ancient tombstones.  The audio guide was somewhat verbose and OH charged around the room shouting 'get on with it!'.  Fortunately we were alone.  After a battle, when he insisted on opening the door himself, we found an exhibition of alpinisme which was quite interesting and then some modern art which was actually crap and then, oh joy, found a costume display from which I took quite a few photos.  OH stopped shouting at the audio guide briefly to shout at me to get a move on.  As usual, I ignored him and took lots of images of the exquisite detail on the bodices and jackets.  There was also some really crazy headgear.  

Back home and the car aquaplaned twice, again.  These days out are rather bad for my nerves.  The new Ikea is coming on apace, they are up to roof level and have electricity. We could go there for lunch, says OH.  I would be going there for, in the words of Nanci Griffiths, for unnecessary plastic items

(Love at the Five and Dime) Nancy Griffiths

If you don't know her, listen and love.

Many visits and the adverse effects of alcohol on an empty stomach...

Monday 13 July 2015

Warm getting stickier later 25 degrees

Very long day of visits today.  The couple were English and have been out with my major competitor who, fortunately, didn't grasp well what they were looking for, and only managed to show them one house that they really like.  They are guilty of showing the client what the client said they wanted.  In my experience, for non French clients, they never buy what they came to see - they often buy something which bears no relation to their original enquiry. French people, on the other hand, if they buy will buy just what they asked to see and cant be persuaded to see anything else.  

Talking to my colleague the other day, he remarked that a good French client is the best of clients and it is true that a French person only looks at houses where and when and for how much he can afford.  They don't look all over the place and then go home and think about it for months.  They have an imperative to get on with things.  And there is no endless translation and wrangling about details.  They know the rules of the business and they respect them.  They are infuriating with their obsession about double glazing and full central heating but it is possible to sell to them houses on main roads, houses next to farms and houses so ugly I would need a blind fold to exist in them. But there you go.  The difference between local and foreigner demands is marked and at the beginning of my career, the only way I could sell to a French person is if they came through the agency door and insisted on buying something.  

French agents, conversely, have trouble understanding the anglophone love of old stone and our disregard for double glazing, full central heating and the impracticalities of the property and the lack of insulation when faced with a property of such age and beauty that we just have to have it.  French see the problems.  Brits see the finished project.  French agents show 'renovated' properties to Brits and the Brits are horrified at what has been done to them and think they would need to rip it all out.  I remember one 18th century manor house where the wonderful cast iron radiators were chucked in the barn and, their replacements, air conditioning units were stuck like giant moths on the wonderful golden stone walls.  There was a brand new staircase, in oak, but with disco lights on the edges of each step.  It was a travesty.  My French colleagues were enthralled.  The gay Belgian and I were traumatised and went into a corner and muttered How on earth do the French ever get a reputation for having good taste?

I digress.  OH decided to come with me and be my driver and I told him not to make things up about the properties and talk bollocks which I would have later to correct.  The couple were in their late 50's and looked pleasant.  We set off and saw two properties and then left them for lunch.  OH looked frazzled.  That guy is a boring, irritating bxxxxd he commented.  I had spent most of the morning trying to find houses which were hiding themselves in the narrow lanes and ringing people up to get directions and had only vaguely listened to the bloke rambling on.  I was very thankful that OH was there or I would have had to pay more attention.  We had squid and salad and then it was time to go back out again and we saw a lovely contemporary home with pool.  For a guy who said he wanted old stone, the client was really enthusiastic.  We then went, eventually, to a house on the top of a hill where we got jumped on by many dogs, and then to see a house with my colleague - he had to come and get us - and then finally to a house back in our town just a short walk from the centre.

Before getting back to our town, OH decided it was time for a drink and so we went to the terrace bar overlooking the river.  People were leaping in and out of the water and buzzards soared at dizzying heights in the bowl of the heavens.  I asked for a panaché but got a beer and the man ordered a carafe of wine for the lady who couldn't drink it all and so I had a glass of wine too and I was OK until I tried to stand up.  Her husband had a massive glass of lager, the second of the day to my knowledge, and looked like he was warming up.  The lady and I were lightweight drinkers and both of us felt the effects.  OH therefore parked over half a km from the house so we could walk it off.  We were consequently very hot and sticky when we arrived and the owners gave us water and we must have been there for over an hour and then, thankfully, it was time to go home.  Had to walk the dog and I felt utterly exhausted and very hungry.  Fell asleep on the sofa at 8.30.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Finding the right resolution and canine shenanigans

Sunday 12 July 2015

Beautiful sunny day 24 degrees

Up early and excited about getting buttons ready for sale.  There was a scratching at the back door and it was next door's dog.  Our dog sprang out of his pit, rather cross eyed at being called for at this time in the morning, and went out to meet his friend.  There was excited barking then silence.  Ten minutes later, there was more scratching at the back door but I could hear dog barking next door.  Not good.  Sunday at 7.30 am is not when you want to hear a dog outside and barking in proximity.  My neighbour, currently at their holiday home, is a lawyer, albeit Spanish.  Dashed out and was promptly jumped on by Patchou - the neighbour's dog.  He is a labrit breed, built for working with herd animals, and looks like a large mobile hearth rug.  He has a sweet disposition and is only eight months old, but in the absence of any training whatsoever, and no attention, is developing bad habits.  He cuddles up to me and smiles joyfully,showing sharp white teeth.  As soon as I move, he jumps up at me.  It is infuriating and I have to brandish a large walking stick.  There is no sign of my dog.  I walk up the road, repeatedly shoving away the other dog, and finally find my soaking wet dog outside the nearest lawyer neighbours house.  He has been digging in the river and is filthy and stinks.  Back to our house and I am breathless and have to have a cup of tea to recover from effort. Still not yet 8 am.  Patchou jumps repeatedly up to the kitchen window sill and smiles at me but finally goes home.

I set to the task of photographing the resin buttons and the light is all wrong and no matter where I go in the house, there are shadows.  I drag in an upright light and then there are shadows and yellow patches.  The buttons are translucent with delicate seed inclusions and I must have been lucky first time around when I took the pictures in late afternoon with the light coming from the rear of the house rather than the front.  Try taking them outside and the light is too harsh.  OH calls for tea so I give up temporarily and we have tea in bed and he says he has cracking headache.  He is in a stifling room (he refuses to have either shutters or windows open during the summer hence I go to room next door) and is wearing a heavy brushed cotton pj top.  I open window and give him paracetamol and he gets up eventually.  I get back to the task of photography and finally manage to get some decent pictures.

I managed to mess up the pendants when doming them as it ran down the sides and stuck to the kitchen paper so I sand it off and then redome.  Look at pictures on the big handmade sale site and the best sellers have stunning photography.  I need to learn how to take better pictures with my iPhone.  It has a 8 mega pixel camera.  Need to find out how to focus right in correctly and get a fade out background.

Was impressed by the photography on this site

Eight acorns resin jewellery

OH went back to bed so I walked dog on the top road and was somewhat stunned by a Skype message from the US lady.  She seems to be under the impression that the penalty monies paid in by her future ex husband in respect of the joint non purchase of the house, can now be used by her to part pay for the purchase of the house by herself and another person.  What planet is this woman on???  Informed her that the notaire had said that her ex would get his money back.  She can chew on that.  Young couple from earlier on in the week say they need to talk to their parents about the house that they like and there is no news from our buyers, which is good news.  Their seven days are now up and we just need to get the loan offer through and we can sign.  Still not got the loan offers through from the NZ ladies bank even though they keep saying there is no problem - date limit is 15th.  We are getting close to the wire.

Set the tennis to record and went to meet my colleague to previsit a house for the couple tomorrow.  He said it was walking distance of town centre.  It is not what I would call walking distance.  It takes about eight minutes to drive it.  The house has many many rooms and was rather gloomy.  Lady had died of myeloma.  Man lives alone with his books.  Family wants him to come back to UK.  Two room gite and lovely pool.

Drive around town for at least a half hour, looking for lovely (and much cheaper) house which I spotted on a competitor website and I dont know where it is, but I know where it isnt. Found roads which I had never found before.  Gave up finally and back home and watched Men's Final with Djokevitch and Federer and it was utterly epic.  Our dog ran off into the night with the other dog and we thought, blow it, and went to bed.  Found him on the doorstep, alone and very thirsty, the next morning.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Brioche surprise, schwarz tee and the calming properties of cake

Saturday 11 July 2015

Delightfully cool and overcast 24 degrees

The finest of mist was hanging over the garden this morning and tiny water droplets were forming on the leaves and petals.  The air smelled heavy with moisture.  Ran around, getting an order batched up for Australia, woke up OH early so he could go down town and measure up for the new rental unit finishings and then out into the morning for the revisit on the chateau.

Stopping at an intervening town, I found the Post Office was shut on Saturdays but open on Mondays, unlike the one in my town.  The thing with France is that not everything is open at the same time and often it is not open at all.  Back in the UK, you can be confident that, between 9 and 5 on five days of the week, plus Saturday morning plus 10 - 4 on a Sunday, shops will be open.  Here, a place can be open anytime between 8 and 7 but it will definitely be closed 12-2 and if it is open on a Saturday, it will be closed on a Monday.  The Intermarché supermarkets, boulangers, florists and paper shops are open for a couple of hours on Sunday morning and they are heaving.  I have to say, the Intermarché Sunday openings have only been around for about three years and were the subject of much controversy.  Bread shops are open from around 6 but then close 12.30 - 3.30 presumably to give the boulangère a bit of shut eye and to let some more bread prove, rise and bake.

Stuffing the envelope back in my bag, I drove onto the chateau and the owner's son was patrolling the terrace.  The client was 20 minutes late and arrived with a friend.  They are both exceptionally tall.  The son and I felt Lilliputian.  I left them and the son to it and joined the owner on the patio.  She offered me schwarz tee which turned out to be fragrant black tea from Bavaria and she told me about her hip and cataract operations, carried out in Germany, and her many travels around Asia and Australia.  After about an hour and a half, we were running out of conversation, and the men had finally finished looking around so I went to the town bar with them and they tentatively made an offer of 250000 euros which I said was too low and they needed to be around 300000 euros.  They asked me to get a quote for the dry rot and said they would do some calculations and come back with a firm offer during the week.  

Drove back to my town and went to find a house I had been told about and it turned out that I knew it already.  Back home and nibbled on a brioche surprise, the surprise being that it spreads itself all over your face and hands.  Full of lovely apricot jam and fruit.  Picked up OH and we went to find a house which interests the young couple I was with earlier in the week.  It transpired, after much knocking on doors, to belong to an absentee English couple. It is in a tiny street with no car access but lovely views.  I hope the young couple don't decide to go and see it with the other agency who, surely, do have the keys.  Told the couple that the owners are absent and I wont be able to get access until they return.  Gave my card to the neighbour and asked him to pass it over when he sees them.  His house is part of the town walls and, when he finally got down all the stairs and cranked open the massive wooden door full of ancient and huge nails, the thickness of the stone became apparent.  It is known as the 'fortified house'.  He didn't take umbrage at my request and I remarked that his house was an amazing structure and he said indeed it was.  Walked the dog along the river and saw some amazing iridescent turquoise beetles.  Back home where OH insisted on catching up with the correspondence.  

Young couple sent me message to say they need to come back and see Noras and other properties

Felt very tired but still had to ring up and organise all of Monday and Tuesday's visits.  Must do feedback.  Had panic attack at how far behind I am on everything - including putting all photos on for four properties, updating rooms on a house where I have lost the details, giving feedback on all of the visits.  Felt short of breath.  OH gave me tea and a cake which calmed me down.  He then made char grilled squid, chorizo and prawn stir fry and we watched Serena Williams against Garbine Mugaraza in the Ladies Final at Wimbledon.  Not a bad match.  Serena was triumphant.  What a player she is.  She is Amazonian.  I am not surprised that people have trouble beating her.